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Legato CTO: 'We now have longevity'

It may go down in history as the biggest storage merger of 2003 that didn't shock anyone, but EMC's pending acquisition of software maker Legato Systems Inc., Mountain View, Calif., could have significant implications for customers and partners of both companies if the deal is finalized this fall.

Legato's chief technology officer, George Symons, sat down with editors from and Storage magazine to talk about the acquisition from a product point of view and to discuss what users can expect from an EMC-backed Legato.

When can customers expect a new version of Legato's flagship NetWorker product?
We're not stopping what we're doing just because of the merger. We're releasing NetWorker 7.1 by the end of this quarter. It will have snapshot support, meaning it will manage snapshot capabilities for a number of different hardware vendors. The last new version of NetWorker, version 7.0, was released in the first quarter of this year. There were some dramatic improvements around backing up to disks as targets. NetWorker now treats disk as disk and not as virtual tape. When the acquisition bid was announced, EMC said features from its Enterprise Data Manager (EDM) would be integrated into Legato's software line. What features did EMC mean? How will this affect users?
EDM is very well tuned to Symmetrix and has a very fast block level backup. That's what needs to come across. That's where it fits more than anywhere else. We'll pick up software DNA to apply to our products to bring things closer together, but it doesn't confuse anything, from a product point of view. How will the new EMC-Legato function, on the whole? Do you expect a culture shock?
We had a fairly in-depth relationship before the merger. There was a little bit of OEM going on between the two companies, but the relationship had much more to do with technical support. It required that our engineering teams work together. We've always had teams working together. Legato will run as a standalone division. Engineering will report into its division and, ultimately, to Mark Lewis. We'll probably have some Legato [sales] going through the EMC channels and EMC [sales] going through the Legato channels. It's critical to support customers and partners that we already have. How has EMC's bid to acquire Legato affected your customers and your relationships with them?
For Legato customers, it's been sort of a nonevent. We're not going to change the way we do things. [However], it knocks a couple of our hurdles out [of] the way. It has wiped out the question of 'Will Legato be around?' Our [newfound], long-term viability means key customers who wouldn't even look at Legato before will evaluate the products now. We now have longevity, a healthy balance sheet and the ability to add [research and development] resources that we wouldn't have had before. EMC works with many third-party software vendors for its Centera content-addressed storage system. Where is there product overlap, in terms of information life cycle management and EMC's Centera?
Our views of ILM overlap significantly. Many people have different definitions of ILM. The way we look at it is as a process and not a product. We're trying to take an application view of data, meaning what's the value of data over time and what are the business requirements around it? Then you start to work on the process. [Down the road], there will most likely be benefits to using Legato with Centera, but it will not be a requirement. EMC will continue to work with its software partners, and Legato will continue to work with its hardware partners. It's important to [keep management] open.

Let us know what you think about the story. E-mailKevin Komiega, News Editor

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